Understanding the skills gaps and mismatches between architecture education and market needs - both within architecture practice and other industries and sectors - requires an inquiry into the state of the profession and education today. Architecture is typically categorised as a ‘vocational’ and/or ‘professional’ degree, designed to prepare architects for the architecture industry. In terms of its curriculum, architecture offers an epistemologically diverse knowledge base, drawing from the arts, sciences and humanities, making it particularly adept at providing graduates with a broad knowledge foundation that can provide a transitional pathway into other careers. Despite reports of a decline in architects pay, the long-hours culture and the low ratio of jobs to graduates available across Europe, the popularity of an Architecture degree continues, with more schools opening in Europe, but even more rapidly, elsewhere in the world (such as India and China) too (per The Architects’ Council of Europe Sector Study, Mirza & Nacey Research Ltd., 2017). There is evidently a substantial mismatch between our understanding of why students choose to study architecture, choose to leave architecture, and where their skills are meeting ‘gaps’ in other sectors.

There are several reasons why understanding this mismatch this is important:

[1] Mapping the extent of this phenomenon at EU level will help address question of labour mobility across the regions and between sectors.

[2] Different European Countries have different professional ‘registration’ requirements, affecting when and where graduates are legally entitled to the title and status of architect, despite the Bologna Agreement. This presents a significant challenge to pan-European mobility and mutual recognition Subsequently, this study will map the extent of the problem and identify innovative solutions to improve mutual recognition –at local, regional, national and European/international level.

[3] The study seeks to precisely identify which of architecture’s principal pedagogies form part of these transferrable, ‘pan-sector’ skills. For example, architecture curricula typically requires students to work within CAD space (Computer Aided design) for example, 3-dimensional visualisation and time-based media as part of the core curriculum (design studio), commanding a greater proportion of the assessment percentages than other competencies. An architecture student is likely to spend on average two-thirds of their training gaining digital competencies that are much needed by multiple industries. In contrast, qualifications such as media and film making, teach time-based media for 2-3 weeks throughout an entire degree, leaving architecture graduates better positioned to serve the needs of - in this scenario - the film industry than students who have taken a film degree. This presents a significant problem for the transparency and recognition and comparability of qualifications and skills, particularly in relation to (i) the narrowing of skills taught in architecture in order to meet a rigid definition of the architectural profession by the EU directive (ii) the skills demanded by professional bodies and national chambers of architects (iii) pan-European mobility issues between the regions due to national agendas (iiii) fuzzy debates about the need for ‘hard’, discipline-specific skills and expertise and the need for graduates to acquire ‘softer’ transposable skills that can adapt more easily to emergent markets and expanding niche industries.

[4] In response to this, the study will identify opportunities for better information and guidance on skills and qualifications for students and employers but also, for higher education providers by consolidating and improving evidence-building in higher education by measuring the performance of higher education policies, systems and the performance in individual institutions, using alumni offices, graduate destination data and other tracking statistics.

[5] Identifying where skills shortages are situated and increasing by region and mapping these against existing and forthcoming numbers of architecture graduates/rates and character of employment etc, this study will provide evidence on the skills needs of national and EU-wide economy and the society through skills anticipation, in line with the Council Recommendations on tracking graduates and improving the availability of comparable data on graduate outcomes within Europe.